Traffic tickets are issued in New York for various violations under the Vehicle and Traffic Law. On each New York traffic ticket you can find the statute of the violation, under the section named “Section Sub Section”. Generally, the ticket will say how to respond to it by pleading “guilty” or “not guilty”. (NYC, Buffalo, and Rochester Traffic Violations Bureau tickets also list the amount to pay if you decide to plead guilty). You must respond to a traffic violation ticket by pleading “not guilty”, paying a fine, appearing in court, or hiring a lawyer to represent you. If you choose to ignore the traffic offense, a warrant may be issued for your arrest and your driving license may be suspended.
TYPES OF VIOLATIONS
Most traffic violations in New York State that are issued are called “strict-liability” offenses. What this means is that in order to found guilty of a “strict liability” offense the only thing prosecutor needs to do is prove that a person violated the offense. Regardless of any other factors if you violated the offense you will still be found guilty. Excuses are not acceptable defenses in “strict-liability” offenses. The most common “strict-liability” offense in New York is speeding, Vehicle and Traffic Law §1180. Contrary to popular belief, excuses such as such as “it was an emergency” or “my speedometer broke” or “I really needed to go to the bathroom” are not defenses. The only defenses to strict liability offenses that might be effective are those involving mistaken identity (you claim it was someone else that committed the offense and not you) or that the prosecutor or police officer didn’t follow the appropriate procedures or did not prove their case.
MOVING VS. NON-MOVING VIOLATIONS
Violations are also organized by whether or not the car was in motion during the incident. Some common examples of New York moving violations include:
- Driving on a suspended license (Aggravated Unlicensed Operation)
- Drunk driving (DUI and DWI)
- Driving without a seat belt
- Texting while driving or the use of cell phone while driving
- Non-Moving violations include:
- Parking in a handicapped zone or other illegal parking
- Driving without proper vehicle registration
- Having expired license plates
What to do when you receive a NY traffic ticket
Many violations do not require a court appearance, and you may admit guilt by pleading guilty to the ticket. The traffic ticket will indicate how and where to pay the fine. If you received a traffic ticket in the Traffic Violations Bureau (the boroughs of NYC, Rochester, Buffalo) you may be able to pay the ticket online via the DMV website. If are going to pay by mail, check the “guilty” box on the back of your ticket and send your money order/check to the address mentioned on your ticket (Note: the DMV will not except payments in cash).
If you wish to dispute the traffic violation, you must check the “not guilty” box at the back of your ticket, and send the ticket to the address given on the ticket. You must appear in court personally on the scheduled date, when entering into a “not guilty” plea. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury. Most people who cannot take off from work to go to court or don’t want a ticket on their driving record, prefer to hire a New York traffic ticket lawyer to defend them.
When you pay a ticket, you are pleading guilty to a traffic offense, which will mean you will receive the same consequences as being found guilty in court. If you choose to plead guilty you should be aware of the following possible consequences:
- Many traffic offenses, including speeding and other moving violations, are automatically reported to other states and some Canadian provinces. This means you may receive points on your driving record regardless of whether or not you are a New York resident.
- Drivers that accumulate points on their driving record are often subject to higher car insurance premiums.
- Many New York traffic violations can carry fines of $600 or more.